Quick Tip #5: Assistance Work!

By: Brian Carroll

Accessory work is vital to rounding out a well-balanced strength program. By just doing squat, bench and deadlift; you are neglecting the supportive musculature that helps you get stronger, stay healthy, add muscle and – dare I say this – helps you look better.

Here Are 5 Quick Tips For Accessory Work:

1. Don’t choose assistance work just because your favorite lifter does a certain exercise and is brutally strong. I’m not saying that you should avoid what your favorite lifter does, just don’t be a zombie, actually learn if that exercise can help you. If it applies to you and your weaknesses, then by all means hammer it. At some time or another, you should try every assistance movement, but not all at once!

2. Do what you suck at. Whatever assistance work will help your big lifts improve; this is what you need to be doing. Whether it’s dialing in form with more form work, core work or just getting your triceps stronger for a bigger bench. Dial your shit in and get better each day. Whether it’s your mental game or physical game. Be prepared.

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3. Don’t switch up assistance work every week, give it time. I suggest giving your chosen assistance work about 10 weeks to work its magic. If you change each week, how will you know whether it works or not? Give it time, if it doesn’t work, move on to another exercise. This is all a process. On the same hand, you have to constantly re-evaluate what accessory work you need to improve. Just because you have weak triceps now, doesn’t mean they will be weak forever.

4. Hammer core work. Nobody has ever missed a lift because their core is too strong; however, the opposite happens pretty damn often. Core work is also a great version of a dynamic warm-up to get you ready for a heavy workout and is especially important when staying tight during a big lift. Yes, it is boring. Yes, it sucks to do at times; but you know what else sucks? Not getting stronger.

5. Kettlebell work is a nice change of pace. Don’t underestimate the ability of a KB to make you stronger and it definitely has a place in your programming. Whether it’s for your warm-up, a deload week, assistance work or a fluff and buff day. Throw in some single arm/leg work to stay as balanced as possible, especially if you have imbalances from side to side.


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Brian Carroll

Brian is a world-class powerlifter with over two decades of elite and pro-level powerlifting under his belt. Coming back from a devastating back injury in 2012 that broke multiple bones and that most experts said he would never recover from, he has returned to the pinnacle of world-class lifting (while 100% pain and symptom-free) and is now dedicated to helping others avoid the same mistakes that he made in the past through private and group coaching in Jacksonville, FL. Brian’s impressive recovery has given him the opportunity to teach and deliver talks to physical therapists, chiropractors, medical doctors, professional strength & conditioning coaches and experts from all facets of sport, on how to avoid injury, while building anti-fragile strength and resilience in athletes.

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